Saturday, 26 May 2012

Grizzled Skippers at Beckley Woods

Grizzled Skippers mating
Grizzled Skippers (ab. taras) mating
This was my first visit to Beckley after the dreadful weather of the last few weeks finally broke and the Sun came out. It was a real treat to discover initially the female (on the right) performing the Grizzled Skipper's trademark low-level manoevres, that make them extremely difficult to follow. Then, the male (on the left obviously) appeared and began to chase her around.

The female moved much less after he appeared, just a few inches at a time and vibrated her wings at him each time she perched. After only about a minute, the male was able to catch her and I was lucky enough to catch them, resulting in the image above.

If you look at the forewing at (top left) of the male, you will notice that the white spots are merged together as large blocks - an aberration of this species known as taras (first drawn by a chap called Petiver in 1717, but not named until 1780 by Bergstrasser). So far, it would seem that all the Grizzled Skippers at Beckley are this taras variation. This distinctive type also appears at other woods locally, along with another variation called intermedia, where the spots are less blocky, but still conjoined.

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